- When is The Best Time to Mediate?
Chairman Brenda Long, in our Family Law team, explains when is the best time to mediate.
If you think that mediation might be for you, it obviously makes sense to explore the option early on. It is a good idea to see a solicitor first, to find out what orders the court can make and the range of outcomes which are most likely in your case. You can then ask your solicitor to recommend a mediator or contact a mediator yourself.
Not all cases, however, are suitable for mediation straightaway. It may be that your partner is unwilling to attend. Alternatively, one or other of you might be feeling too emotional or fragile to start mediation immediately.
If your dispute relates to financial settlement, the first step, whichever route you choose, will be to exchange financial disclosure – comprehensive details and supporting documents to show what assets, liabilities, pensions, income, etc you each have. This will usually take a few weeks, particularly if you need to obtain pension valuations, and this can create a welcome ‘pause’ whilst you both come to terms with your situation. This might be enough to make you both feel ready to try mediation once disclosure has been exchanged and considered.
Mediation can still be helpful at a later stage, even after a court application has started. Once you have both experienced the cost and possible unpleasantness of the court process, you might both be more amenable to considering alternative routes.
In particular, mediation can be useful to try and narrow the issues between you, even if you cannot agree on everything. Sometimes it is the details of a case which can cause the problems, and if you can reach agreement on these, the rest might fall into place.
If you are in the middle of a court application, but think that mediation might be useful, you should speak to your solicitor about it. Judges are always keen for people to try and agree things between them and will therefore agree to adjourn proceedings for a period of time to give you an opportunity to try mediation.
The message is that it is almost never too late to try mediation and if you think it might work for you, give it a go.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.